If you are running Windows 10 on a laptop or tablet, battery life is one of the most important things you need to keep an eye on.
Battery health is not the same as battery life / charge. Checking the estimated battery life, or charge amount, on your laptop or tablet is really easy. Just click the battery icon in the notification area and you can see the percentage battery left and the estimated time you have to work. You can scale the power management back to conserve battery when you are low, and when it runs out you can simply plug in and recharge.
What is a charging cycle?
All batteries can only be charged a finite number of times. The action of discharge and recharging a battery is called a cycle. A cycle is counted when the battery is discharged and charged at or over 100% of capacity. For example, the battery at 100% is discharged to 15% then fully charged is a cycle. A battery at 100% discharged down to 75% then fully charged is not a complete cycle, but doing that 4 times is. Batteries can generally only support around 800-1000 cycles before they start to degrade. Depending on the type of battery this can be less overall charge, meaning you run out of power quicker or the battery may not hold charge with the device off. In extreme cases the battery may start to swell or even burst.
In the Windows system, there is a great power management tool that allows you to learn more about your battery information and behavior over time. The report is called "Battery Report".
- Right-click on the Start menu to bring up the menu
- Command Prompt (Admin)
- Copy and paste powercfg /batteryreport /output "%UserProfile%\Desktop\battery_report.html"
- On your desktop you should see a file labeled
battery_report.html, double click to open
The report is made up of a few different sections. The first shows details such as the computer name and Windows versions. The next section lists the battery or batteries if you have more than one. You can see the type of battery, commonly LiP for Lithium Polymer or LION for Lithion Ion. Most importantly you can see the battery design capacity and the calculated full charge capacity.
You can also see recent battery usage, when the battery charges and discharges and various statistics about the battery capacity history. You can see from this screenshot of my report that my Surface Book 2 has two batteries. The first isn't looking too bad, however the second is showing a drop in full charge capacity of about 20% which is something I'm going to have to keep an eye on. You can also see the cycle count for the battery, although I believe that is since the OS install not the entire life of the battery, so if you reset your Windows 10 laptop to factory settings this will revert to zero.
How to Minimize Battery Wear
There are several things you can do to help prolong the life of your laptop battery and there are things you can do that will accelerate the deterioration of your battery capacity.
The first and most important thing is to use the device as normal and do not worry about discharging or re-charging the battery regularly. The device is designed to be used and batteries will last at least 5 years through heavy use and much longer in lighter use. The 20% degradation you see on my battery report is over two and a half years worth of heavy usage, I use it for work, gaming and writing. It's in use over 12 hours per day plugged in or using battery.
However, keeping your device on charger all the time without allowing it to discharge, will eventually burn your battery.
Also do not let your device run out of charge and leave it for too long as the battery may go on a deep discharge that you can't recover from. If you're storing the device for a prolonged period of time you should charge the battery to roughly 50% and store it like that.